Trump Extends April and June Visa Bans to March 31, 2021

Trump Extends April and June Visa Bans to March 31, 2021

Written by Taher Kameli & Chathan Vemuri

President Donald Trump issued a proclamation on December 31 of 2020, extending the bans on certain immigrant and non-immigrant visas that were previously banned as per his proclamations on April 22 and June 22 of 2020, respectively.[1] Although these orders were supposed to expire on December 31 of 2020 itself, the President invoked the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on jobs in late 2020 to justify protecting US workers by continuing both of the bans.[2]While the ban would primarily hurt applicants for the H-1B visa, it would also apply to applicants for H-2B, H-4, L-1 and some J-1 visas.[3]

 

Furthermore, the H-1B visa is granted to skilled workers, typically in the tech industry, who can work in the U.S. for an extended period of time.[4] H-2B visas are given to season workers and H-4 visas are given to their spouses so that they may accompany them.[5] J-1 visas are given to academic applicants such as researchers and scholars.[6] L-1 visas are granted to applicants who are executives of a company abroad and are transferred to that employer’s US branch.[7]

 

In fact, the Trump administration’s tight restrictions on the H-1B visa have been a source of controversy before, ever since it first passed changes to it as an interim final rule on October 8, 2020 for the purpose of decreasing reliance on H-1B visa holders in favor of American workers.[8] The District Court for the Northern District of California struck down the Interim Final Rule for violating the requisite procedures under the Administrative Procedures Act for not being subject to public notice and public comment.[9]

 

Yet, the Trump administration continues to extend and push forward these restrictions on immigration even in the midst of an electoral defeat. It reflects President Trump’s commitment to continuing his restrictive immigration policy even in the final days of his presidency.[1]

 

Despite this, businesses such as technology companies and even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have criticized the bans for the harm they pose to the U.S. economy.[2] They have filed suit to block these restrictions.[3]

 

Furthermore, President-elect Biden theoretically has the power to overturn these policies once he takes office on January 20th of 2021.[4] However, the toll of the Pandemic on employment may make him reticent to do so. It was partly President Trump’s allies who pushed him to extend the bans due to the economy not yet entirely recovering from the pandemic as well as out of the hope that it would put President-elect Biden in a difficult position, namely, whether to allow more foreign workers when so many American workers are out of work in the midst of the Pandemic.[5]

 

It is conceivable that President-elect Biden may not rescind these bans in their entirely if his administration decides that lifting them comes at the expense of the already vulnerable domestic workforce.[6] Already, while the unemployment rate as of November 2020 was 6.7%, down from 14.7% in April, it is still double the jobless rate in February, prior to the lockdowns.[7] The combination of the pandemic and the need to protect American workers most affected by it may possibly help to prolong Trump’s hardline immigration policies even into a Democratic administration.

 

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[1] Id.

[2] Trump Extends Work Visa Ban Through March, Citing Labor Market Woes, LaTimes (Jan 1, 2021, 2:03 PM) https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2021-01-01/trump-h1b-visa-ban

[3] Id.

[4] Samuels, Brett, Trump Extends Visa Restrictions Through March, The Hill (Dec. 31, 2020) available at https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/532275-trump-extends-visa-restrictions-through-march

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

[7] [7] Trump Extends Work Visa Ban Through March, Citing Labor Market Woes, LaTimes (Jan 1, 2021, 2:03 PM) https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2021-01-01/trump-h1b-visa-ban

[1] Ho, Tina H., Trump Administration Extends Visa Bans to March 31, 2021, 11 Nat’l Law. Rev. No. 5 (Jan. 4, 2021) available at https://www.natlawreview.com/article/trump-administration-extends-visa-bans-to-march-31-2021

[2] Samuels, Brett, Trump Extends Visa Restrictions Through March, The Hill (Dec. 31, 2020) available at https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/532275-trump-extends-visa-restrictions-through-march

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

[7] Id.

[8] Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Miriam Jordan, Trump Moves to Tighten Visa Access for High-Skilled Foreign Workers, N.Y. Times (Oct. 6, 2020) available at https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/06/us/politics/h1b-visas-foreign-workers-trump.html

[9] Bumgardner, Brian D., Koski, Ceridwen J., Wolfe, Samantha D., and Manna Melissa, District Court Invalidates New DOL and DHS H-1B Regulations, Nat’l Law Rev. Vol. 10 No. 337  (Dec. 2, 2020) available at https://www.natlawreview.com/article/district-court-invalidates-new-dol-and-dhs-h-1b-regulations